Sexual orientation Essay

This essay has a total of 2805 words and 14 pages.

sexual orientation



Sexual orientation has been and to some degree is still seen as a taboo topic. For many
years it has been argued that sexual orientation is based on one's gender and one's sexual
preference, should be based on one's sex (i.e. females should be attracted to males and
males to females). For generations, these narrow views were considered to be the norm.
However, hidden within society was a lifestyle that once aired was seen as deviant.
Homosexuality and many sexual orientations were seen as sexual deviancy that needed some
type of treatment to cure.

Many people use the term sexual preference to describe someone's sexual orientation, such
as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, etc. Heterosexuals are individuals attracted to
the opposite sex, homosexuals are individuals who are attracted to the same sex, while
bisexuals are people who are attracted to both sexes. However this term is outdated
because "sexual orientation is no longer considered to be one's conscious individual
preference or choice, but is instead thought to be formed by a complicated network of
social, cultural biological, economic and political factors (http://
www.siews.org/pubs/fact/fact0006.html)." Sexual orientation is based on one' erotic,
romantic and affectional attractions. These attractions could occur with the same gender
(sex), to the opposite gender (sex) or both.

Society is obsessed with finding what determines one' sexual orientation, if an individual
is homosexual or bisexual. Surprising, society is not really fascinated why heterosexuals
are 'straight'. "Straight people do not 'come out' because our society assumes that
people are straight unless they say that they are not (Planned Parenthood. 2000, p. 3)."
This assumption is known as heterosexism, which is quite offensive and disrespectful
towards the homosexual community. A large sector of the population fails to realize how
difficult 'coming out' might be for homosexuals to their family and friends. Family and
friends may react either negatively or positive towards the needs. Consequently many
gay, lesbian and bisexual people hide their sexual orientation from family and friends.
In the process, they may feel isolated, scared, guilt or depressed. By the early to mid
twentieth century, sexual orientation became an apparent issue that had to be addressed.
There were some people that were breaking away to what was considered the norm. Males
with males, females with females, males with both sexes, and female with both sexes were
unheard of at the time, but it was being done. No one knew what to make of it and how it
came to be, therefore, it had to be classified as an illness.

"Why am I gay?", or "Why am I a bisexual?" are questions that no one really can answer.
However, there are many theories that are associated with homosexuality. Most theories
are based on three approaches: "(1) nature, (2) nurture and (3) a combination of both
nature and nurture (Internet. 2000, http://www.chebucto.na.ca/Health/Sexorien/gay.html.
The nature theory on homosexuality is that individuals are homosexual due to genetics that
predetermines a person's homosexual orientation, where as the nurture theory assumes that
one sexual orientation is based on one's environment and experiences. According to the
article "Answers to your Questions about Sexual Orientation and Homosexuality (2000),
although scientist are not sure how homosexuality came to be, they do believe that the
sexual orientation of many is shaped at an early age, adolescence (p. 1). However, there
are many experts that believe one's sexual orientation is determined before birth.
Furthermore, scientists also believe that the development of an individual sexual
orientation is based on "complex interactions of biological, psychological factors
(Internet. 2000, http://www.apa.org/pubinfo/orient.html)."

In 1990's, scientists began to do an in-depth study of genes hoping to find a homosexual
gene. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) released the finding of the study, on July
14, 1993. The study found that there "is a correlation between a specific chromosomal
region in human males and homosexuality (Internet. 1993,
http://www.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs.cmu.edu/user/scotts/bulgarians/nih-ngltf.html)." The
research indicated that there is a possibility of a genetic basis for homosexuality.
Scientists believe that a specific area of the X chromosome is linked to male
homosexuality. According to the NIH findings (1993), the gene appears to be genetically
inherited from the mother's side that may influence one's sexual orientation (p. 1).

Chief of the Cancer Institute's Section on Gene Structure and Regulation, Dean Hamer
studied the family histories of 114 gay men. He "found more homosexual brothers, uncles
and male cousins than expected in the general population. Some families had three
generations of homosexual relatives (Internet. 2000,
http://www.cs.cmu.edu/user/scotts/bulgarians/nih-upi.html)." Hamer concluded that these
findings were hopeful since uncles and cousins were raised in the same household, but
shared a genetic information, which suggested inheritance.

Hamer continued his research and studied DNA from forty (40) pairs of homosexual brothers.
According to Hamer (1993), thirty-three (33) of the brothers shared genetic markers on
the X-chromosomes found in a region known as Xq28 (p. 2). This chromosome is one of two
sex determining chromosomes. "Genes are arranged along 26 chromosomes, each consisting of
tiny coils of DNA, deoxyribonucleic acid, which carries the instructions to manufacture a
particular body substance. Furthermore, there was no such similar sharing in the same
region among heterosexual men (Internet. 1993.

http://www.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs.cmu.edu/user/bulgarians/nih-upi.html)."
What do these findings tell us about homosexuality and sexual orientation? Nothing
really. Earlier studies suggested that the inherited X chromosomes played some type of
role in shaping one's sexual orientation, however, no such conclusion can be reached due
to lack of evidence. The NIH study did not pinpoint an exact gene that may be
responsible for an individual sexual orientation. Furthermore, as the NIH research points
out (1993), the X-chromosomes were not found in all specimens and therefore it cannot
account for all occurrences of homosexuality. Hamer conducted this research in hopes to
make people understand that "being gay is not simply a choice or purely a decision.
People have no control over the genes they inherit and there is no way to change them
(Internet. 1993.

http://www.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs.cmu.edu/uesr/scotts/bulgarians/nih-upi.html)."
Normally, sexual orientation emerges without any prior sexual experience and it is a
factor that cannot be changed. As the article on "Answers to your Question about Sexual
Orientation and Homosexuality" (2000) points out, many people have reported trying to
change his/her sexual orientation without much avail (p.1). Therefore, "psychologists do
not consider sexual orientation for most people to be a choice that can be voluntarily
changed (Internet. 2000. http://www.apa.org/pubinfo/orient.html)." According to Zuriff
(1997), many psychoanalysts thought homosexuality was caused by a failure to develop due
to a childhood trauma (p. 2). Freud associated homosexual development with oedipal
frustration. He believed that homosexuality was caused by "an intense mother attraction
coupled with a distant father figure. These boys then identify with their denied object
of desire and assumed her role in future relationships with men who resemble themselves
(Internet. 2000. http://www.priory.com/psch/disparat.html)."

"Prevailing psychiatric tradition considered homosexuality pathological regardless of the
health, happiness or functionality of gay, lesbian, and bisexual, individuals (Internet.
2000. http://www.priory.com/psych/disparat.html)." Furthermore, it was concluded that
this deviant behavior was associated with other pathologies. In 1952, the Diagnostic and
Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) listed homosexuality as a psychiatric
disorder. Homosexuality was classified as a "sociopathic personality disturbance, meaning
that the diagnosis could be made purely on the homosexuality alone, despite the absence of
subjectively experienced distress (Zuriff. 1997, p. 2)." Discrimination was running
rampant against homosexuals. They were arrested, abused and their places of business were
shut down. This all changed with the raid of the Stone Wall Bar by the police where
homosexuals decided to take a stand and fight back against the blatant prejudices. This
brought about a rise of a militant gay liberation movement that demanded the normalization
of homosexuality as a lifestyle. Gay activists attacked the APA for classifying
homosexuality as a disease. They launched several protests at several professional
conventions over next few years.

The APA was forced to reconsider the biases of defining homosexuality as a mental
disorder. Consequently a compromise was reached, in which homosexuality was still
included in the revision of DMS, renamed DMSII, but under a more descriptive term. "In
1973, the American Psychiatric Association classified homosexuality as sexual deviation
along with other disorders such as fetishism and pedophilia (Zuriff. 1997, p. 2). Mental
health professionals were classifying homosexuals as mentally ill because most of the
research that was done involved lesbian and gay men in therapy. The research was biased
because the research never included lesbian and gay men that were not in therapy.
However, as Zuriff points out (1997), when the non-patient homosexual population was
studied, researchers found that many homosexuals were leading well adjusted, fulfilling
lives (p. 4). It was then concluded that homosexuality was not linked with incidence of
psychopathology.

Consequently, Stoller (1973) indicates that in the past, based on the conclusion that
homosexuals were considered to have a mental illness were denied civil rights in many
areas of life (p. 1216). Furthermore, their rights were denied on the basis of
demonstrating their competence, on their reliability and/or their mental stability (p.
1216)." Interestingly, New York, which is one of the most diverse cities, filled with a
melting pot of people, is very biased against homosexuals. In the United States, there
are only nine states that have some-type of legislation protecting lesbian and gay people
against bigotry based on their sexual orientation. In addition, according to the article
"Sexual Orientation and Identity (2000), seven states have even banned the practices of
certain sexual practices between individuals of the same gender (p. 2).

For decades, the human rights of homosexuals have been denied to them. They have been
denied because of their sexual orientation. However, every woman, man, and child has the
human right to freedom of sexual orientation. "This includes the fundamental human right
to freedom from discrimination based on sexual orientation or any other status, and other
fundamental human rights dependent upon realization of the human right to freedom from
discrimination (Internet. 1996. http://www.pdhre.org/rights/sexualorient.html)."
Consequently, in 1971, gay activists composed the Bill for Gay Civil Rights. The bill was
brought forth to legislation and rejected each time. Finally, on March 20, 1986, the bill
(Intro 2) was passed, which found discrimination in housing; workplace and the public
Continues for 7 more pages >>




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  • Big brothers
    big brothers In 1903 a man by the name of Irvin F. Westiemer encountered a young boy in an alley. This boy was searching for food in a garbage can. This unfortunate sight inspired him to organize an agency, which would be responsible for providing little boys who have no father figure, a male role model. This concept led to the creation of Big Brothers in the early 1900’s. Irvin F. Westiemer is responsible for a non-profit, North American wide, private social service. The theory of introducing a
  • Canterbury Tales1
    Canterbury Tales1 In Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, the Pardoner tells a tale which reflects some of his characteristics, but is not consistent with all of his qualities. The Pardoner sells pardons and relics not for the sake of the people he should be trying to save, but for his own monetary gain. The tale he tells is an ironic one, in which three friends set out to locate Death and kill him. However in the end, they just find death. The Pardoner is honest and so is the tale he tells.
  • Canterbury Tales1
    Canterbury Tales1 In Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, the Pardoner tells a tale which reflects some of his characteristics, but is not consistent with all of his qualities. The Pardoner sells pardons and relics not for the sake of the people he should be trying to save, but for his own monetary gain. The tale he tells is an ironic one, in which three friends set out to locate Death and kill him. However in the end, they just find death. The Pardoner is honest and so is the tale he tells.